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The trouble with clout

Xadrian McCraven

Xadrian McCraven

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Updated: January 14, 2014 11:06AM

We have a problem with Xadrian R. McCraven, and you should too.

We don’t understand how McCraven has managed to stay on a State of Illinois payroll since 2000 despite a remarkably long record of trouble.

This is not to say we think McCraven should be fired now from his current position as an administrator with the Department of Corrections, where we have been told he’s doing a good job.

We just can’t help marvel that McCraven ever got the job in the first place, and our guess is that he’s been clouted along in state government the whole way.

This is an entirely reasonable suspicion. We — and you — are allowed to doubt whether a state employee really earned and deserves what he’s got when his name has popped up on a secret political patronage list.

That’s the insidious thing about patronage, where government workers get hired because of whom they know; only a complete chump can believe that the best people are being hired and the worst are being fired.

Consider McCraven’s checkered history. As reported by Frank Main and Chris Fusco in two stories in the Sun-Times this week, McCraven has a long criminal record that includes at least 24 arrests on charges including arson, illegal gun possession, attempted robbery, drug possession and aggravated assault.

Fresh out of college in 1992, McCraven applied to be a Chicago cop but was rejected because of his criminal history. He sued, claiming racial discrimination, but got nowhere with the judge, who pointed out that McCraven was known “to be a drug dealer, gang member and supplier of guns to other gang members.”

In 1998, McCraven was working as a Chicago Housing Authority police officer when he was charged with domestic battery, accused of assaulting his former fiance, and found guilty of reckless conduct. The CHA fired him for this. In a court filing later, McCraven claimed the CHA police had reversed the firing, but a judge observed there was no evidence this was true.

In 2000, McCraven landed a job with the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services as a child-protection worker.

How did he get that gig? Maybe he was the perfect candidate. But then again, when McCraven landed a bigger job just three years later as executive assistant to the director of the Illinois Department of Professional Regulation, his name showed up on a once-secret list of thousands of politically connected candidates for jobs, transfers and promotions. The list was kept by the administration of Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

McCraven’s political sponsor, according to the list, was the IDPR’s director, Fernando E. Grillo, who has told the Sun-Times he does not remember sponsoring McCraven.

McCraven returned to DCFS in 2007, after a short time off a public payroll, but was fired again last year for “misconduct.” DCFS accused him of using his state computer to send hundreds of “lewd and inappropriate” emails. He also, according to the DCFS inspector general, used DCFS letterhead “to issue a personal letter to the private employer of his daughter’s mother, which made it appear that the department was requesting the woman’s presence in Illinois.” And, the IG said, he “used DCFS resources to help a friend engaged in a custody battle.”

Not so good, agreed?

But in June, DCFS reversed the firing after McCraven agreed to accept a 10-day suspension. We are told by sources that DCFS concluded there were mitigating circumstances.

Mitigating circumstances? OK. Maybe. Who knows.

Must have been fantastic mitigating circumstances.

But we can’t stop thinking about that clout list.

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